sporklet 6

Wesley Rothman




There, the throb. Gorge & swish. Fat then thin
Then beat, release. Repeat. Repeat. My fist
Creams the tan bag on contact; the bag makes its mark too.
Strike, wind, strike, wind, strike-wind-strike. I pulse
& the bag pulses. We, swinging at each other,
Bounce back until one of us drops off.

That which drives me into the driver’s seat,
Windows sealed, drives the volume high, thickest,
Fueling compression, pressing & unpressing.
They call it an equalizer, though I tip the large notes
Largest, going nowhere but down. We sink
With every pump farther [pause] farther [change track]

Dusk spills the long note of horizon, allowing me
Some relief from light. A speed bag pounds somewhere
Its own migraine, & I’m sure someone has said
Every song has a pulse, lives its own bass line,
Even when we take it out. Who in me needs
This throbbing, there, low in the back left quadrant?


Float me into dark, near naked.

Send my hips tilt-a-whirling, slo-mo,

Send the brownest Caribbean rum

& the roiling coke, the rolling I tried

Rocking in the gym with the lights

Missing. We were sixteen & sexified.

& my moves were no match.

So pour another now, pour me

A dark drink, pour the dark down

My back, pour me, mix me

With the dripping dark.

This is a baptism, a christening,

A water birth, a spell. With all this

Newness, we can choose

How we’re made, how we see

& make with language,

With vowels & verbs, with fingertips

Streaming thighs or triggers, the hips

Of another body resisting

& begging. We are dark

Undulation & adoration. We stir

Our own currents — our own moon

& sea — send them rolling into others.

Together, we turn the tide rogue.

Night Interrogates the Light Bulb

I blare my 40 watts up into the darkening
Vast warehouse of evening. A god


Lords over me, wide, unwieldy,
Firing questions from all the infinite


Points of light shoving their way
Into the fray. My bald face, pale


& emitting, weakens. What made you
Think to shine so hard? I flicker for once.


Why do you swivel toward the many
Infinitesimals? I learn the lifeblood


Of second-guessing. You, too, are a speck,
One among the throngs. All you need


Is a pinprick of doubt. Never imagined
Quieting the light could mean as much as


Or more than illumination. I am still here, lit,
Liminal, straddling my past of blinding


& my now — comfort disrupted
For a buzzless moment in a field


Of questions, everything thriving in night,
Darkness’s broad & graceful arm


Around my shoulder.

Wesley Rothman’s poems appear in Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Mississippi Review, New England ReviewThe New Guard, Prairie Schooner, Southern Indiana Review, Vinyl, Waxwing, the Poets on Growth anthology, and The Golden Shovel Anthology, among other venues. His criticism is forthcoming in American Microreviews and InterviewsBoston Review, Callaloo, and Harvard Review. After having taught throughout Boston for five years, he is now working toward a PhD in literature and cultural studies at The Catholic University of America, where he teaches.